Representative Ron Wright of Texas died Sunday night after an 18-day battle with COVID-19. The 67-year-old Republican, who had also been receiving treatment for a recurrence of lung cancer, is the first member of Congress to die of the coronavirus. Wright announced he had tested positive for COVID-19 on January 21 following five days of self-quarantine after being in close contact with someone with the virus. Two weeks ago, he and his wife were both hospitalized for treatment, though Wright said he had only mild symptoms at the time. He had not been vaccinated.
The congressman had overcome lung cancer in 2018, but suffered a recurrence the following year and ultimately needed to be hospitalized for complications related to his treatment in September. He easily won reelection in Texas’s 6th District (which includes the Dallas suburb of Arlington) for a second term in the House in November. In 2018, Wright ran for and won the House seat vacated when longtime congressman Joe Barton, whose office Wright had previously worked for, decided he would not seek reelection. Wright’s final vote in the House was on January 13, in opposition to the impeachment of then-president Trump.
Wright is survived by his wife, three children, and nine grandchildren.
Dozens of members of Congress, including three other House Republicans from Texas, have contracted COVID amid the pandemic. In late December, Louisiana represenative-elect Luke Letlow died from COVID-19, but Wright is the first active member of Congress to die of the coronavirus.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott will call for a special election to replace Wright in Congress, but it’s not yet clear when that will happen or who will run to replace him.